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AFRL Locates Possibilities in Quantum GPS, Sensors and Low-Power Device Communications

By IQT News posted 05 Jan 2021

(NextPlatform) What 17 winners of the recent Air Force Research Laboratory grant share in common shows where the AFRL might be seeing some of the first practical applications in quantum computing: in GPS—an area where we have not seen a lot of specific work to date outside of quantum work in atomic and lattice clocks. Over half of the seventeen research selections have direct implications for using quantum methods for navigation in areas where GPS cannot be used. Nearly all of the remaining selected research could support low-power quantum device communications and quantum sensors.
These research awards are noteworthy in that they show unique uses of quantum computing techniques that could be included on a device, instrument, or vehicle and opens questions about how important “edge” quantum could be in the coming years. So far, most government investments have focused on using quantum computers as provided by IBM, D-Wave, and others.
Among some of the research selected by AFRL are “Memory Enhanced Quantum Sensing for GPS-Denied Navigation” (University of Pittsburgh) and related, “Quantum Sensors for GPS-Denied Navigation (Australian National University). Related to GPS functionality is “Toward Sub-Picotesla Quantum Diamond Magnetometers for Defense” (University of Melbourne).
About half of the other research initiatives are focused on low-power quantum sensing and networking. This includes “Efficient Fast Photonic Integrated Circuits for Quantum Computing”; “Ultra-Low Power Magneto-optic Devices for Quantum Computing in Silicon Photonics” (UC Santa Barbara); and “Quantum Enabling Technologies to Support Communication and Networking” (Harvard University).
While the funding is not large for each selected research party ($75,000) each, it is notable that “quantum at the edge” has practical military applications with GPS of particular interest and with the emphasis on quantum networks for low-power devices and quantum sensing.

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